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1 Peter 1:39, 13comment (0)

July 10, 2014

By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh, Ph.D.

Related Scripture: 1 Peter 1:39, 13

Bible Studies for Life 
Chair and Armstrong Professor of Religion, Samford University

Focused Faith

1 Peter 1:3–9, 13

The hope of heaven has been a staple theme in the hymns of the Church down through the centuries. African-American spirituals such as “When the Saints Go Marching In” focus on leaving this world of trouble and entering into the rest of heaven. Southern gospel provides “This World Is Not My Home” written in 1946, which urges the believer not to find their fulfillment in the things of this world because the longings of the human soul can only be satisfied in heaven. The common theme is that heaven will be great and in the midst of a world of sin, evil and suffering, we can live in hope of that which is to come. Peter uses this theme of a “living hope” to encourage the believers of the early Church to endure persecution in the light of eternity.

Our Hope is Based on the Work of Christ (3–4)

Peter begins his letter with some superb statements of faith and hope in what Jesus Christ has accomplished for believers. He piles one metaphor upon another to encourage his readers to believe the “mercy and peace of God” will fill their hearts abundantly. Through their experience of Christ, they have encountered the radical change of conversion that is like receiving a whole new life that gives them a living hope, a bright future and an orientation that will lead to spiritual maturity here and now as well as heaven to come. This hope is founded on the risen Christ who enables believers to face persecution and even death without fear, for death is not the end but a new beginning. Indeed death will bring the believer into the full enjoyment of his or her inheritance, which is permanent, perfect and will never come to an end. It is guarded, kept safe for us in heaven. Unlike the investments we make in this world, the interest rates never decline and the best is yet to be.

Our Hope is Refined By the Present Work of Christ (5–7)

The past work of Christ continues in the lives of His people as Peter assures us that not only is our inheritance kept safe for us in heaven but the Lord Jesus is protecting us by His glorious power to ensure that He never loses His grasp of our lives. The picture is of a military camp in which believers are living. Outside the forces of evil are attacking, but on the perimeter the power of God is protecting His people. Their faith may be weak, but the protection of God is not dependent on the strength of our faith but on His faithfulnesstoward us.

This protection from ultimate harm does not mean that believers are immune from difficulty, testing and temptation. Yet the trials of this life are seen in the light of eternity to be “for a little while.” This present suffering, which in itself has no goodness, has the purpose of refining our faith. Just as gold is tested by fire to burn off any impurities without damaging the metal itself, so trials will purge our lives to make us more like Christ.

Our Hope is Fixed on the Future Coming of Christ (8–9, 13)

Every aspect of life is focused on the future when we will come face-to-face with our risen Lord and we will see and rejoice in His presence. Our inheritance does not consist so much in “things” even the “things of heaven” but in the Lord Himself in whose presence we will enjoy and whom we will worship. This hope can fill our hearts, even now with “indescribable and glorious joy,” and we fix our hope on seeing Him when He comes again.

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